catskill beaver pond © Lang Elliott Coyotes (Coy-Wolves) sounding off in the distance in the middle of the night near a beaver pond in the Catskill Mountains (listen also for the hoots of a Barred Owl). Recorded around 2am, 2 October 2017 near Fleischmanns, New York. © Lang Elliott.

David Abram - from google images

David Abram

Hi All! I’m fresh back from a workshop with the amazing David Abram, author of a fabulous book The Spell of the Sensuous (highly recommended reading!) and master story-teller. The workshop was in the Catskill Mountains at the Spillian retreat center just outside of Fleishmanns, New York. My partner Siobhan and I arrived early and went exploring. I was fortunate to stumble upon a wonderful beaver pond complex just eight miles north of the center. It was on private property, but I managed to get permission to place my binaural soundscape mic there at night.

As it turned out, there wasn’t a lot of nature-sound activity at the pond (autumn being a quiet time), with the exception of the constant trickling and gurgling of water going over beaver dams that spread across the swamp. No beaver sounds were evident except for subtle chewing at times and several tailslaps over the 3-night period. Nonetheless, I managed to snag three significant recordings: 1) Coyotes howling and yipping, 2) a Barred Owl giving its rare scream-call, and 3) a Flying Squirrel chipping from a tree overhead. The coyote recording is featured above.

Coyote - from DreamstimeTo my ear, the four coyote howls at the beginning of the recording sound much like the howl of a wolf. Although wolves don’t occur in the Catskills, it is probable that these are hybrids with a significant amount of wolf genes (coyotes in the Northeast are quite a bit larger than those in the Southwest, due in part to such hybridization). So these are perhaps best referred to as Coy-Wolves.

Perhaps the most interesting vocal event during my stay was a distant Barred Owl giving wailing whistles or screams. To my absolute delight, I captured the following call-sequence, my best examples to date of this rare and unusual vocalization:

Barred Owl Screams (plus very distant hoots) heard in the distance near a beaver pond. Around 1 am, 3 October 2017, near Fleischmanns, New York. © Lang Elliott.

According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, these screams are “female solicitation calls”. I’m not sure exactly what that means or why Barred Owl females might be producing this call in early autumn. Certainly, this somewhat tonal call is different from the more harsh-sounding squeals or screams of immatures wanting to be fed.

Southern Flying Squirrel - US Forest ServiceIt was a big surprise to discover that I got recordings of the chipping calls of what I believe is a Flying Squirrel, although I’m not sure which species is sounding off (Northern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus, or Eastern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys volans; both species probably occur in the Catskills). It is possible that some other mammal is making this sound, so please identify it if you know for sure.

Flying Squirrel chips or squeaks, coming from a large Norway Spruce towering above the microphone. Around 5 am, 4 October 2017, near Fleischmanns, New York. © Lang Elliott.

To provide you with a longer listening experience, I’ve created a 10-minute composite recording (mashup) that features all three species, including the honking of a flock of Canada Geese. Long intervals of inactivity have been removed to compress the time sequence. I hope you enjoy it!

Water moving over beaver dams with Coyotes howling, a Barred Owl screaming, a flock of Canada Geese flying over, and a Flying Squirrel chipping. This is a composite recording with long silent intervals removed. Recorded at various times during two nights, 4-5 October 2017, near Fleischmanns, New York. © Lang Elliott.

Catskill beaver pond at dusk © Lang Elliott

As always, please chime-in below and let me know what you think of these recordings. And listen over headphones if at all possible (all the recordings are binaural and really come to life when headphones are used).

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